Jean Bauer [history, databases, photography]

Who am I?

By day, I am the Research Director of the Center for Digital Humanities at Princeton. By night, I'm not all that different. Through a combination of formal training and curiosity I am an Early American historian, a database designer, and a photographer. I'm also sleep-deprived, but that probably isn't related ...

I blog on Packets: Musings on Information Exchange and tweet as @jean_bauer.

I designed as a portal into my research and artistic interests. As an academic I happily self-select into the Digital Humanities and Alt-Ac communities; as a photographer I shoot whatever catches my eye.

You can read my bio at the end of the page.


Software Development

I am an open source developer with a special interest in relational databases and data visualization. All my code can be found on my github page. I am the lead developer on two open source tools:

Project Quincy is a Django application with a MySQL database that uses information about people, places, and organizations to trace how social networks and institutions develop over time and through space. It is named in honor of John Quincy Adams (1767-1848).

DAVILA is a relational database schema visualization and annotation tool. It is written in Processing using the toxiclibs physics library. I built DAVILA to help database developers to create visually appealing and semantically rich interactive diagrams to document their relational data structures within a rapid development cycle.

Research Projects

My research interests span from philosophy of digital history to 18th-century diplomacy to the history of the book. I attack these questions by combining theoretical investigation and archival research with data modeling and data visualization.

The Early American Foreign Service Database is an open-access repository and analysis platform for the study of American diplomats, consuls, and special agents from 1775-1825. The EAFSD recreates the social, commercial, and epistolary networks of the U.S. Foreign Service in the Age of Sail by connecting people, places, and organizations through the transfer of information by letters or permanent overseas assignments. It allows historians to trace the early American governments' attempts to deploy and control their overseas representatives. The database includes an expanding set of visualization tools and its content is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License. The EAFSD is built on Project Quincy, and has been live since 2010 at

“Revolution-Mongers: Launching the U.S. Foreign Service, 1775-1825”: My dissertation analyzes the early American diplomatic and consular corps as global epistolary networks and uses this insight to reassess early American state capacity in foreign relations. The research and analysis employ The Early American Foreign Service Database to trace the epistolary networks and create visual arguments that allow the dissertation to complement biographical analysis and micro-history with study of the Foreign Service on the levels of social network, institutional structure, and global placement. I expect to defend in the Corcoran Department of History at the University of Virginia by August 2015.

The Mapping Colonial Americas Publishing Project is a collaboration with James Egan, Professor of English at Brown University, to map the spatial and genre distribution of printing in the Americas before 1800 using the rare book catalog records of the John Hay and John Carter Brown Special Collections Libraries. In the process, the project reads rare book catalogs as texts to be studied and modeled. The project integrates Spanish, French, Dutch, and English colonial printing with American Indian texts from North and South America and will provide a digital, visual portal of rare books held at Brown University.



I have designed and taught two hands-on courses in Digital Humanities.

Data Visualization Lab for Visualizations in the Humanities: From the Cabinet of Curiosities to the Geoparser. Fall 2013, Brown University, AMST 2661. I created and taught a weekly hands-on 1-hour Data Visualization Lab that was designed to support a graduate class on the theory of visualization, and to prepare students to complete a digital humanities project by the end of the semester. (Faculty Instructors Steven Lubar, American Studies, and Massimo Riva, Italian Studies)

From Vellum to Very Large Databases: Historical Sources Past, Present, and Future. Spring 2010, University of Virginia, HIST 4501. The course focused on the changing nature of historical sources and the implications of these changes for the practice of academic history.


I teach a number of workshops on data cleaning, data modeling, and data analysis/visualization, both on the Brown Campus through the Center for Digital Scholarship, and also as an invited instructor at other universities and conferences.

Some of these workshops and talks have been recorded, and I am gathering the links here:

Leaks in the Age of Sail. As a diplomatic historian I was planning to write something about the Wikileaks debacle. However, my good friends at Monticello beat me to it when they interviewed me and then put the podcast online. Head over to their site and check it out.



I have developed a number of infographics for teaching and project work, as well as poster presentations. Here are some of my favorites.

Designs for Microsoft Surface

Declaration of Independence, Digital Exhibit

I designed a prototype digital exhibit of the Albert H. Small Declaration of Independence Collection at the University of Virginia using a first-generation Microsoft Surface (since renamed Microsoft PixelSense) installation. It was touch based (like an iPad) and allowed for up to four simultaneous users.

Workflow Explanation Workflow Explanation

This is probably the most beautiful information graphic I have designed, but I created it before the project had a set data structure. Thus I violated the first principle of software design: "Don't make it pretty until it's right."

Relational Database Explanation Relational Database Explanation

Before I started color coding and annotating my database diagrams, I tried several ways of teaching my colleagues and employers how to read them. This was my best attempt.

Annotated E-R Diagram Annotated Entity-Relationship Diagram

This represents the height of my attempts to annotate and color-code database diagrams by hand. As my designs became more complex, I ended up writing DAVILA to automate the process.

Anatomy of a Letter Anatomy of a Letter

I created this as a handout for my talk, "Reading Other People's Mail: Letters as Primary Sources," in the Harrison Institute Original Sources Lecture Series at the University of Virginia Library.

I used it to show the basic structure of any letter and how key components (dates, names, places) can be programmatically pulled from text to recreate correspondence networks.

A podcast of the talk is available on iTunesU. Go to University of Virginia, UVA Libraries, and click on Harrison Institute. This was my first podcast talk, and frankly I've always been too scared to listen to the recording, so I make no guarantees.


I design lightweight, standards-based websites which reflect their content. I enjoy using my own photographs as design elements when appropriate. I can also customize Wordpress sites.

Here are of some of the sites I have designed:


Artist's Statement

Actually, I don't really have one.

I hope my photographs give you an excuse to be quiet and thoughtful for a moment. That may be the greatest gift art can bestow.

Click on "Going Home," my photo from the Brooklyn Bridge, to see more.

Prints for Sale

To purchase a print contact me directly. Prices range from $50 - $100 depending on size. Shipping and handling charges will vary by location.

Bio + CV

I am the daughter of a computer scientist (Evan Bauer) and a novelist (Joan Bauer), so I grew up in a house full of computers and stories. I was bitten by the history bug at the tender age of eight, which eventually took me to the PhD program in Early American history at the University of Virginia, to study with Peter S. Onuf and J.C.A. Stagg. While at UVA I was pulled into the University of Virginia Library's Scholars' Lab orbit and in 2008-2009 was fortunate to be chosen as one of their earliest Graduate Fellows.

My dissertation, "Revolution-Mongers: Launching the U.S. Foreign Service, 1775-1825," exists symbiotically with The Early American Foreign Service Database (EAFSD to its friends), an open source, open-access secondary source on the diplomats, consuls, and special agents sent out by the various early American governments.

I have transcribed, translated, and decrypted letters for The Papers of James Madison, designed a database for The Dolley Madison Digital Edition, and served as Design Researcher for Documents Compass, a digital consulting organization for documentary editors and a service provider of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

I joined the Brown University Library as their first Digital Humanities Librarian in August 2011. In my time at Brown I collaborated with Jim Egan to build the Mapping Colonial Americas Publishing Project, which brought together my interest in data visualization and the history of the book with Jim's background in Colonial American literature, in an interative exploration of the Brown Library catalog.

I became the first Associate Director of the Digital Humanities Center at Princeton in September 2014. After four years of building the Center from three part time employees to eight employees (7 FTE) with two postdocs, and a number of graduate fellows and student assistants, I became the Research Director in July 2018.

Click here to read my CV.

And the photography? That is harder to discuss because everything else in my life is expressed in words. I recommend looking at my photographs and drawing your own conclusions. I will say, though, that being a photographer has dramatically influenced how I design interfaces. For (a trivial) example, this whole website was designed around the photo "Looking Up" from a show I exhibited in August of 2009 called "Looking at Flowers: A Photographer's Tribute."